Chastain – Return of Miss Leather Part II

Thursday, 21st November 2013

This is the second part of Matt Coe’s lengthy chat with Chastain vocalist Leather Leone. Read on for some fascinating tales, including a few stories on one Mr. Ronnie James Dio…

Dead Rhetoric: So now you are back with Chastain for a new album Surrender to No One. How did those initial conversations go with David, I would imagine he was happy to hear you were back on the scene? You recorded more tracks than are available on the album- how did you pick and choose which ones would make the record?

Leone: David had always been in touch with me for years – he would always send me royalty checks so he was always sort of checking in. He used to say that I was too good not to be out there, and I was like “Ok- whatever.” Through the tremendous loss that we all experienced with Ronnie James Dio, I spent a lot of time down Los Angeles going through that tragic thing, hooking up with Sandy and we started talking. She talked to me about doing something for him, and I decided I would try. I took little steps, going into studios – I cut a demo of “Egypt” and the SLP album came to be. I ended up talking to David a lot, just as a mentor about what we should do, and he helped me out a lot.

Through the course of those talks, he let me know he had a lot of material laying around that he was thinking about doing a record with me. I told him I had some material laying around so we started going back and forth with it for about a year. We started demoing stuff, really low key- nothing expected, and I think we ended up with almost 30 songs. I record something, and you either love it or hate. I depended upon David to tell me what we sounded best at. So it was really great. The stuff he had sent me that he had laying around, I never said to this to him but I thought it was okay. In the last couple of months he was sending me this new music and it was just sick- which is what this record consists of, the more recent material. This is what we had to do. You know all the records he puts out? We didn’t want to go into this hardcore, different type of direction so I think there is a good mixture of what we were doing in the 80’s and 90’s and stepping our foot into the modern days.

Dead Rhetoric: One of the things I enjoy about the new record is the fact that I feel it’s an adequate balance between the known Chastain style while also taking into account the production and technology changes that have happened in the past 20+ years since last recording together with David. Was this a conscious decision on both your parts when making this?

Leone: Great, I’m glad you noticed that. You can’t stay back in 1984, we aren’t a thrash band. It was a delicate line I think. Because he had sent me a group of music – I am a Dio freak- and it had this heavy 4/4 style. I started demoing it, but it wasn’t Chastain. It was [what] Leather would do for a solo record, but not as Chastain. So we definitely took that into account.

Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about my current favorites from the new album “Save Me Tonight,” “Deep Down in the Darkness,” and the title cut?

Leone: “Deep Down in the Darkness” is a hysterical story to me. He sent me that song in the basic form that we recorded it. He had someone else lay down the vocal tracks. I took it and I said, “Yeah,” but I decided to try my own vocal take with it. I would lay all of these different melodies over it and it just wasn’t working. So I didn’t really like the song – I know enough to know when I try things out and it’s not working. He said that was fine – we don’t have to do it. When I was getting ready to fly out and record, he would send me different groups of songs and work on at that time. All of a sudden, “Deep Down…” is on there, so I tried to record it. I was wrong, we went back to the original format, and I now really like that song.

“Surrender to No One” was one of the first tracks he sent me that I went into a local studio to demo it. It’s quite different on the record from the original version, but I really like it too- the whole concept of it. We called the CD that, and Stian [Kristoffersen] the drummer, just blows me away. He just killed it. “Save Me Tonight” was also one of the originals; I did that in the studio again as a demo. Both those songs really got my interest going in working on Chastain again. I started really believing that we could do something and feeling him. I’m glad to hear that you like those songs.

Dead Rhetoric: Are there any plans for Chastain to do some special festival appearances or even a short tour in support of this new record? If so, do you have an idea of what a set list may encompass?

Leone: It really takes David a lot for him to leave his castle. I’m sure that we will play some shows next year. Probably in the Cincinnati, Ohio area for sure. We are getting offers from Europe all the time but I don’t think David is going to do it and I respect him on that. Again it really frustrates me, but we will try to play some local shows next year. It is all about you people making sure that they play the record on metal radio so that David has no choice but to play shows!

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